Who: Singer Sean Wood of the Spits
What: Kalamazoo, Mich.,-based punk/rock
Why: Loud, fun, in-your-face punk from occasionally costumed scene vets
Where: The Ché Café & Til Two Club
When: Ché Café on Thursday night with Mrs. Magician and San Pedro El Cortez, and the Til Two on March 20 with Useless Eaters, the Creepy Creeps and Lumps
Scott McDonald: How’s it going?
Sean Wood: Great, man. Thanks.
SM: What’s going on?
SW: We got all kinds of things happening right now. We’ll be releasing our tour-only EP very soon. We’ve got a bunch of stuff that we worked on with King Khan that will be released soon, and we’re still working off of our last record, V.
SM: Did you consider that a darker record than usual?
SW: That seems to be the general consensus, and we kind of wanted that, actually. When we were sitting around writing, we just got to talking about how we were sick of this poppy band and that poppy band; bubblegum-bubblegum and oogie-boogie oogie-boogie. We were sick of it. F---! We just decided to show these kids where we’re from. You know? And that’s the f---ing '80s, that’s f---ing hardcore, that’s metal, and that’s punk.
SM: Is that why you draw such a wide range of fans?
SW: They way we look at it is that it means we must be doing something f---ing right. We’re making new fans, and we’re still keeping the old ones? Not very many bands can do that, you know? When you think about it, you can’t be any luckier than that. You don’t have to change s---. You just keep doing what you f---ing want to do and everybody loves it. Our good friends/little brothers, the Black Lips, when they expanded their sound, they lost fans and, luckily, made a bunch of new ones. But you see that happening a lot. It’s hard to both keep fans and gain them at the same time. And we’re lucky as s---. I mean, how many times have you heard, “Oh, I love their first record?” F---! I hear that all the time about bands! Longevity is the key, and that’s what we’re going for. But when we can’t do it any more, we’ll just stop.
SM: You have to be impressed with the loyalty of your fans, right? Most of them are pretty dedicated.
SW: We are so glad and so honored. But I think that when you’re loyal to what you’re doing, the fans are going to be loyal to you. And it doesn’t really hurt that we’re the underdogs. We’ve inspired a s---load of bands. They come to our shows, and then they’re on Letterman the next time we see them. But it doesn’t matter. If you love what you’re doing, people are going to be loyal. I told it before, but we broke down after playing a party one night in Kansas. And as soon as we got done playing, there were like nine guys out there trying to help. People act like your brothers and that’s f---ing rad.
SM: Is the writing process difficult these days?
SW: Well, since we live in different cities, we’ll just all write four or five things, fly somewhere and try to record them. You know, we just see how it goes. If it’s a keeper, it’s a keeper, and if it’s not, it’s not. And I’ve written some cheeseballs, man. The guys will hear it and say, "That’s not Spits, man!" And they’re right. And then sometimes we’ll do it and we’re all like, “Yeah! Now that’s really f---ing us!” That’s just how it goes.
SM: What made a group of punks from Michigan initially choose Seattle over New York or L.A.?
SW: At the time, it was the happening spot. Every kind of music you could think of was there. And there wasn’t anything going on anywhere else. For real, man. There wasn’t anything f---ing happening at all. If you wanted to be in a band and take it seriously back then, that’s where you went. So we did.
SM: What’s your take on the current state of punk rock?
SW: Aw, man. I mean, there are some decent punk bands out there. But then there’s all kinds of s--- that’s calling itself punk and it’s not. It may be hardcore or screamo or some kind of s—-, but it’s not f---ing punk. Or, it’s poppy, bubblegum-candy s---. But then again, we’re not really f---ing punk, either. We’re rock, man. That’s what we grew up listening to, that’s we’re doing, and that’s what we’re all products of.
SM: Is [founding drummer] Lance [Phelps] in the band anymore?
SW: Lance is not in the band anymore. He had some family issues he had to take care of, so he’s now our “official advisor” [laughs]. And my brother moved back to Michigan with his girlfriend. They were in Los Angeles for about seven years, but they moved back home about a year and a half ago.
SM: When can we expect volume VI?
SW: You know, we’re writing right now. The good thing is that we’re still around, but the bad thing about doing it so long is that you start to wonder if you’re running out of f---ing songs, man. But we haven’t run out yet, and we’re not dead. It’s just takes a little longer these days. I mean, we had 30-some songs for this last record, and, one by one, everyone started f---ing nixing them. But, then again, we’re not just going to put f---ing filler on there, man. We’re going to do it right, and that means that we like it. It just takes time. But I imagine in the next year, we’ll have one out. Three years between albums ain’t that bad; especially for us. F--- it. It’s not like we have major labels watching us and we have to produce, produce, produce. Our records have longevity, and this is a family.